Thursday, February 02, 2017

Should the Senate Dems Filibuster? How Much and When?

I have done a lot of reading and thinking about the Supreme Court nominee, as well as President Trump's cabinet choices. Dems cannot fight every battle and should not fight every battle. They need to pick principled fights and stick together. They should not only pick fights they can win. There is a time to stand on principle and accept that they will lose at times, but at least they can say that they fought on the right side of history for principled reasons. Then, the Republicans can go it alone on bad choices.

Here are the battles I think they have to fight: 1. They have to filibuster Gorsuch and any nominee that isn't named Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court. The Republicans made up a a new rule and denied President Obama the right and his constitutional duty to appoint a Supreme Court judge. Had Garland been given a vote and lost, then I would not hold this position, but Garland is a center-left moderate who is a good man with a strong judicial temperament. If the Republicans want to choose the "nuclear option" to ram Gorsuch through, that is fine, but Dems should fight on the principle that Garland's name was forwarded by the rightful President and he should have been given a vote.

2. Jeff Sessions should not be Attorney General and Dems have to fight his nomination. He has a history of racist views and has shown himself to be against fair voting practices that prevent/suppress minority (primarily African American) voting.

3. Betsy DeVos was clearly unqualified to be Education Secretary. Her confirmation hearing was an utter disaster. She plagiarized answers on her questionnaire, got her facts mixed up, and she was clearly unprepared as she made up crazy stories about grizzly bears attacking schools in Montana (which wasn't true) as a reason to allow guns in schools.

4. Scott Pruitt for EPA is ridiculous. He is a climate change denier, is responsible for allowing fracking in Oklahoma which has resulted in earthquakes, and sued the EPA numerous times as the Attorney General of Oklahoma to allow businesses to skirt environmental regulations. The guy is a joke choice and should not be considered.

These are the fights that the Dems should fight on clear principles. They will be on the right side of history even if they lose.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Trump's Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch

Barring some crazy scandal about Gorsuch, which does not seem likely, Gorsuch will be the next Supreme Court Justice. Frankly, President Obama and the Democrats were too passive. When Justice Scalia died almost a year ago, the Republicans in the Senate took the unprecedented step of just saying they would not allow any hearing or vote on President Obama's choice - no matter who it would be. After President Obama nominated Merrick Garland - an eminently qualified moderate judge - the Republican Senate just failed to do its job. Obama and the Democrats should have fought and gone to court if necessary to force the Senate to vote. Republicans could have voted no, but at least they would have been on the record. Democrats just sat back and waited. Their inaction allowed the Republican Senate to win without even trying.

Now Gorsuch will be confirmed. He seems fully qualified and should get a vote - just as Garland should have gotten a vote. Dems can try to filibuster all they want, but it is unlikely that they will be able to hold it together and prevent an up-or-down vote. From all that I have read, Gorsuch is conservative, but he seems like he may also be a pragmatist and consensus builder. Certainly, he does not seem like a conservative firebrand. Make no mistake, Roe v. Wade is closer to being overturned than it has been in years. If Kennedy or any of the liberal Justices retire/die it is likely to be overturned. If that happens, then it is because voters allowed it to happen by electing Trump, and Dems did not fight when they could do something about it.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Trumpkins in America

The Trumpkins (Trump supporters) are a fairly large group of Americans. They were joined by Republicans who voted Party and some crossover Dems who hated Hillary. But, because there was this coalition that was able to capture the Electoral College - Hillary got 3 million more votes than Trump - we ended up with an idiot in the White House.

As near as I can tell, Trump wants to look inward and isolate the country from the rest of the world. Build a 50 foot wall (there are 51 foot ladders and ropes), ban travel from some countries (without any planning or implementation procedures to help those who became stranded), start a trade war with Mexico (which makes no sense whatsoever), kill off TPP (which was an ideal containment plan for Chinese power and lifting our influence in the Pacific Rim), etc. But, I guess we will be better friends with Putin and Russia - never mind that they hacked our systems and have committed state sponsored war crimes and assassinations.

It is going to take a while for the Trumpkins to realize how stupid they were to put their faith in Trump, and it will take them even longer to admit they were wrong. Until then, we are just going to have to deal with the daily nonsense that continues to come out of the Trump White House.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

1 Week of Trump and We are in a Completely New World

Trump has issued 15 Executive Orders even though there is a Republican Congress. By comparison, President Obama averaged 35 Orders per year. President Bush offered 42 per year. Trump will have 50 in his first month in office. The two latest EO's created a Muslim ban from 7 countries and changed the President's National Security Council to remove the Director of National Intelligence and the Chair of the Joint Chiefs, and then add Steve Bannon, Trump's political strategist. Bannon is an avowed White Nationalist and has no national security experience whatsoever. So Trump is going to take out the head of all U.S. intelligence and the top military leader, and put in a racist political hack. That should give every American pause. How that strengthens national security is beyond me - obviously it does not.

With the stroke of his pen, Trump put in his Muslim ban. It is unconstitutional and will face many challenges in court. A federal judge has already struck down part of it. Yet, the spineless Republican "leadership" in Congress won't do anything. Democrats are going to introduce legislation tomorrow, but under congressional rules, it will be up to the Republicans to allow debate and votes on the legislation. We'll see what happens.

Whatever you think about the ban, it was implemented without any explanation and it has created worldwide travel confusion. It puts the nation in a bad light and further alienates us from our allies.

Those voters who voted for Trump, he is doing everything he said he would do. Unfortunately, it is going to end up tearing the fabric of American and destroying our economy and our prestige and power in the world.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Trump's Approval Rating

The first week on the job and President Trump's approval rating is at 44.5 percent. Usually a new President enjoys a fairly high rating early in a Presidency, but Trump came to office with historically low numbers. It is likely that the numbers will go down from here as his erratic behavior continues.

Killing TPP which was a boon to China and picking trade fights with Mexico, while cozying up with Russia is likely to make things much worse. The death of TPP and the start of a trade war with Mexico is likely to have a major impact on product and produce prices in America. As the prices at Walmart rise, the Trump base of supporters will realize how foolish it was to elect him and his poll numbers will crater. Look I hope I am wrong, but Trump's utter failure to understand basic national and international economics is stunning. He is going to destroy what is a pretty stable U.S. economy. We'll see.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Republican Congress is Feckless

I knew Mitch McConnell was a hack who cares little for the country and more for power and the GOP. But the weak and complete failure of Paul Ryan to stand up for America has been eye opening. I was no fan of Ryan but I thought he had a little bit of backbone and actually cared for the country. The GOP controls Congress and has a President who is will sign anything they want to do, and the leadership in Congress sits back and let's President Trump issue Executive Orders like they are nothing more than toilet paper. These same Congressional "leaders" complained that Obama was acting imperially with his Executive Orders and yet now that Trump is doing it they just sit back, smile and giggle, and do nothing.

It is as if they are completely powerless. As Executive power continues to grow, Congress cowers further and further into the corner. The new President is demanding money to build his Wall, he continues to claim that millions of illegal votes were cast, he has obvious conflicts-of-interest that is further enriching him through the exercise of his presidential power, he is talking about bringing back torture, etc. All the while Congressional "leaders" from the GOP smile and just go along. Ridiculous.

Monday, January 23, 2017

On Day 3 of Trump's Presidency We Learned of "Alternative Facts"

Facts are facts. They are true statements. Yet, that did not stop Mr. Trump's press secretary Sean Spicer to lie about the inaugural crowd size, claiming it was the largest ever. The Sunday morning talk shows had Trump mouthpieces defending the indefensible. It was so ridiculous that spokeswomen, Kellyanne Conway, argued on Meet The Press (MTP) that Spicer and the administration were providing "alternative facts." Chuck Todd (host of MTP) chuckled and rightly pointed out that alternative facts are falsehoods. Personally, I think he should have been more harsh and called them "lies" but he made his point.

Conway's "alternative facts" and Spicer's foolishness has been mocked all over the world. I saw two pretty funny examples from the sports world this weekend. Steve Kerr jabbed at Spicer by referring to his "alternative fact" of being the greatest player in Orlando Magic history (he played 47 games for the franchise). Even better, during the Caps-Stars game this weekend in Dallas, the Stars' Jumbotron showed a picture of the crowd and reported that the night's attendance was "1.5 million."

It is absolutely bizarre that the new administration would actually waste any possible goodwill and credibility it might have at the beginning of its term trying to defend something that is easily proven wrong and which largely does not matter. It is troubling that we may not be able to trust anything the administration says because they refuse to even try to be accurate.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Dog Rescue Story in Pictures

Part of the reason I stopped blogging several years ago was because I was just angry all the time about government (Republican) policies. So I have to make an effort to let some of it go - especially given how terrible Trump is as President Elect, and is going to be as our President

I saw this story about a dog rescue and thought it was great. There are truly wonderful people who make the world a better place. I don't know what kind of owners could do what they did to the poor dog in the story, but there were even better people who rescued it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Trump Fatigue - and he isn't even President yet!

Donald Trump has historically low approval numbers. Trump may think that they are "phony" but they are what they are.

I think his Tweet storms, conflicts-of-interest, questionable Cabinet selections, and erratic statements on Russia, NATO, the CIA, John Lewis, Intelligence, Germany, Brexit, etc. are having an effect. The end result is that people are suffering from Trump fatigue and he hasn't even been inaugurated yet. It is hard to see him actually accomplish anything because he is constantly creating and then dealing with brush fires of his own making.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Trump's Twitter Attacks

Trump just does not seem capable of controlling himself. He accused John Brennan, the CIA Director, of leaking the report about the Russian blackmail video that alleges to have compromised Trump. Of course, Mr. Trump offers no proof. He also tweeted out attacks on Congressman John Lewis, saying he was "All Talk" for which he has been widely criticized. Anyone who studies history and looks at what John Lewis did as a civil rights leader in the 1960s and his decades of dedicated and principled public service knows that Trump is showing his ignorance.

At some point, even his Republican supporters will recognize that Trump is unqualified to be President and lacks the judgement to lead this great country. He defends Russia and Putin, while bashing Lewis, Brennan, and NATO. These facts are clear and within months he will lose a significant portion of his Republican support. It will happen.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

President Huckster

It appears that if you donate to Trump, he will market your firm. At least that is what he did for L.L. Bean.

It is wrong on several levels. Our President should not be a paid spokesman for any firm - that is just common sense. The Office of the President should be above that. It is unethical and it places one firm above others and will make it more likely that other firms will donate so they can get an edge on competitors. It is just plain wrong. If Trump followers start to buy L.L. Bean in large numbers, you can bet other firms will consider doing the same thing.